From Olympic champion to women's sportswear
Kari Traa is not only a Rockstar athlete with three Olympic medals behind her, but also the founder of Europe's fastest growing women's sports brand.
The story of Kari starts in the mountainous village of Voss. Here, like any Norwegian woman, she was born with skis on her feet. Kari, however, distinguished herself with her overpowering talent for particularly bumpy trails. This talent would lead her to become an Olympic champion mogul skier in 2002.
Kari Traa was not a traditional athlete. With her self-irony, unfiltered and direct self confidence- she quickly became a role model for many women.
Crocheting beanies during breaks
At the time, there were not many girls who skied moguls at Kari's level, so she spent most of her time hanging with the men’s team. When sponsors finally came on the scene with clothing for athletes, it was only designed for the men’s team because of the majority.
Fortunately, Kari not only had a talent for skiing, but also an enormous creative power and a good eye for design. In between training and competitions, she crocheted and knitted her own beanies. Sometimes Kari also cut out the sponsor's logo and sewed them on her own creations - to make them exactly the way she wanted.
Eventually, her colourful beanies became so popular with friends and skiers that she decided to turn the hobby into a business. And so, the Kari Traa brand was born. Into an otherwise masculine sports industry, the brand distinguished itself from the get-go: with strong colors, feminine design and lots of playfulness.
Revolutionary wool base layers for women
What started as a small selection of colorful garments soon grew into a complete sports collection of jackets, ski and exercise clothing. But most of all, Kari Traa became known for what would revolutionize the base layer category, namely Rose wool underwear. From being something girls would hide under their ski coats, the Kari Traa baselayers soon became something which they would happily show off at apres-ski.
It was on the Traa family's own farm in Voss that Kari found the inspiration for what has become the best-selling wool long underwear. Kari used the pattern on the tapestry, which still hangs in the living room, and modernized it with new colors.
ICONIC PATTERN: Wherever you go in the mountains today, you'll find girls wearing the iconic Rose wool base layer that Kari designed based on the tapestry that still hangs at her family cabin in Voss.
Kari Traa’s design-team continues to be inspired by Kari's childhood memories, Norwegian traditions, the harsh conditions of the West and the raw Norwegian nature. Women remain the focus in everything from technical execution to design. For Kari, there is no contradiction between style and performance. The goal is for all women, regardless of body type and preferences, to feel good and look good.
CUSTOM-MADE FOR WOMEN: Kari Traa's main design philosophy is to tailor all garments for the female body.
Recruiting new female talent
Inspiring other women to dare to follow their dreams has always been a great motivator for Kari. After winning silver at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, there were no female skiers to pick up the baton after her retirement. To recruit new talent to the freestyle skiing sport, she teamed up with the Norwegian Ski Federation and Olympiatoppen to start her own ski team for girls.
The first audition for the Kari Traa ski team was held in June 2006, and 14 young girls were selected to be trained by the Olympic legend herself. Today we can see a number of new ski talents thanks to this. Including Hedwig Wessel who placed third in the freestyle world-cup in 2016 and ranked number two in 2021 world wide.
KARI TRAA SKI TEAM: When Kari retired in 2006, there were no girls to pick up the baton after her, so she created her own ski team just for girls.
The brand Kari Traa outgrew Norway's borders long ago and is embraced by active girls from all over the world today. The brand was launched internationally in 2006, and is now well established in twelve other European countries, with growth in all markets.
2015 was a new milestone when Kari Traa was launched on the US market. The sales figures there have already shown that women in the US have also love the feminine and daring approach to Kari Traa’s sportswear and lifestyle.
FIGHT FOR WOMEN: The Kari Traa brand continues Kari's fight to elevate women in sports.
All over the world today, Kari Traa's playful and courageous spirit embodies the brand's ambassadors. All focusing on the goal of equalizing gender and power imbalances in sports and societies at large.